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Key Officials Not Invited to Trump Event; Chicago Officers Lounged During Protests; Houston Outlines School Reopening Measures; Faith Leaders Reflect on Moment of Reckoning. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 12, 2020 - 08:30   ET



JOHN CREUZOT, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, DALLAS COUNTY: I've kept the numbers. I know what they are. I know what policing looks like across this county. And if he wanted to have a serious discussion, certainly I should have been there to have that discussion.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What would you have told him?

CREUZOT: Well, I would have explained to him that we have two policing systems in Dallas County, one for people of color and one for everyone else. I could have given him examples, real-life examples of how individuals of color are arrested and detained and sometimes booked into jail for minor offenses that the Anglo community is hardly ever, if at all, arrested for and prosecuted.

And I would explain to him why I have prosecution policies to not prosecute the poor, not prosecute the mentally ill and the homeless and not prosecute first-time misdemeanor marijuana cases because those are all the areas where people of color are targeted and become a person with a criminal record. And this is keeping our young people from getting jobs, from completing school. It's having an impact on their families. So if he really wanted to understand what the dispirit impact of criminal justice is having on people of color, it seems that I would have been there and I certainly would have shared that with him had -- had I been asked.

CAMEROTA: I only have 20 seconds left, but is it also true you would have shared a couple of other tips? I read that you might have said, telling him to get a good night's sleep and turn off his phone.

CREUZOT: Absolutely. I mean, to me, with all due respect to him, he looks like a man and, of course, we know that he stays up all night looking at TV and tweeting things because he's doing it. And it seems to me that a better posture for him would be to turn off the TV, the phone, get some sleep and stop thinking that everybody's out to attack him and stop thinking that he needs to attack everybody and be more of a unifier than he is a divider. And I think we would have him as a much better president if he could take those positions and become that type of person.

CAMEROTA: Well, maybe he's listening now.

John Creuzot, district attorney, thank you very much. Great to talk to you.

CREUZOT: Well, thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ironically, if he is listening, I'm sure he'll put out an angry tweet about it.

Thirteen Chicago police officers lounged, dined and slept in a congressman's campaign office while protests and looting were happening outside. Three of the officers were supervisors and it was all captured on surveillance video and the city's police superintendent is not happy.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Chicago with the latest on this.

Ryan, it actually happened.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, just a lot of questions about this. And, of course, a lot of focus on the police department. And when you see this, it's hard to watch. Of course, a lot of people in the community asking questions.

This all happened while there was looting going on. You see the officers, 13 of them, inside the office. Congressman Bobby Rush even talked about they made popcorn, they made coffee. They slept on his couch. All this going on while it was one of the most violent night in this city and other officers needed assistance.

In fact, take a listen to how angry the mayor was.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, IL: Five hours when literally murder and mayhem is happening everywhere? Police officers are getting the crap beaten out of them. There were 10 ones (ph) being called, that's an officer in distress, and you take a siesta for five hours? That's outrageous.


YOUNG: John, when you think about this, especially here in Chicago, there are a lot of challenges when it comes to policing. The microscope is on the profession. They are calling for new regulations, especially after Laquan McDonald was killed a few years ago and an officer went to jail. This right here has sort of unearthed a lot of feelings in the community just about what's going on with the police department. The mayor, for her part, is calling for licensing for all officers across the state, wanting to see stronger restrictions so she can go after members of the union.


BERMAN: Ryan Young, great reporting. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

If and when students return to school this fall, classrooms and buses could look very different. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRENITA LATHAN, HSD INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT: As you can see, we've labelled our seats so where we would space students out.


BERMAN: The latest on how schools aim to keep kids safe. That's next.



CAMEROTA: Officials in Texas recently gave the green light for schools to slowly start bringing students back into classrooms. Houston school districts now trying to figure out how to do that.

CNN's Bianna Golodryga joins us now with more.

Hi, Bianna, great to see you.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hey, Alisyn. Good to see you this morning.

Well, it is pretty clear at this point that the remote learning experience has been a complete failure for most families. It's added extra burden for children, for parents, for students. And not to mention some 20 percent of U.S. families don't even have access to the technology needed. Well, that makes the need to reopen schools all the more urgent. And when they do, they will look strikingly different.


GRENITA LATHAN, HSD INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT: So we're going to check my temperature first.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): This is how students at Harvard Elementary School in Houston, and likely other schools across the country, will be greeted when doors eventually reopen.

LATHAN: It's 97.7.

GOLODRYGA: Mandatory temperature checks.

Next, they follow a carefully marked path to the PPE station, where each student is given their own face mask that must be worn throughout the day. Interim Houston Superintendent Graneta Lathen, who oversees the largest school district in Texas, with about 210,000 students, has quite literally weathered many past storms.

LATHAN: I want to remind people, we're still recovering from 2017 when Hurricane Harvey hit. And now we're being hit by Covid-19.

GOLODRYGA: But safely reopening schools in the middle of a pandemic is no doubt her biggest challenge yet.

LATHAN: This virus has stumped me, I will tell you the truth.

GOLODRYGA: She gave CNN a first-hand look at just how daunting that challenge is by walking us through the city's oldest school to show us how educators, together with health officials, are preparing guidelines for what students and teachers can expect to see when they return.


LATHAN: So this is one of our classrooms.

GOLODRYGA: Classrooms will be significantly smaller with two or even one student per table.

LATHAN: As we think about having just about 11 students in a classroom at a time.

GOLODRYGA: Cafeterias will be less crowded, with some meals served in classrooms instead. Those familiar tables, meant to seat a large group, will now be used by just a few students at a time.

LATHAN: Initially, I believe it's going to be a prepackaged lunch.

GOLODRYGA: Hallway traffic will be regulated. And instead of students filing out together when that bell rings, it will be teachers transitioning from class to class.

And then there's the question about recess.

LATHAN: Recess will look differently. And the way it will look is we will have a reduced number of students out on the playground. We'll need to make sure that we're cleaning all of our playground equipment throughout the day.

GOLODRYGA: It's a blueprint being modeled in other large school districts, including for the two million students in Los Angeles. The L.A. County Office of Education released its guidelines that include staggered days, one-way hallways and solo play.

It's not just schools that are being refitted. Approximately 480,000 school buses transport more than 25 million students to and from school each day across the country. This is how social distancing will look for many of those passengers.

LATHAN: As you can see, we've labeled our seats so where we would space students out.

GOLODRYGA: All of this change comes with a hefty price tag.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): Reconfiguring schools, reconfiguring school buses, all of this costs a lot of money. How does this play out in the end?

MICHAEL CASSERLY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL OF THE GREAT CITY SCHOOLS: Well, a little bit of federal money is starting to come down to take care of at least some of those initial costs, but on the horizon is costs that are much, much larger.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Most experts envisioned the school year beginning with a hybrid of both online and in-person classes. The priority, they say, is opening their doors for the most vulnerable.

CASSERLY: We're most worried about students who are economically disadvantaged, students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, students who don't have Internet at home.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): We're seeing this back drop of that playground and I'm sure children will be seeing that and say, I want to go back to school. I want to see my friends.

What is your message to those kids and their families?

LATHAN: To be patient. Allow us an opportunity to finalize our plan, to ensure that students can be on the playground, they can be in the classroom, in our cafeteria, on our buses. But just to be patient with us.


GOLODRYGA: And, Alisyn, schools in Houston are scheduled to reopen in mid-August. And you heard about the need to focus on those most vulnerable. The superintendent there in Houston said they've lost touch with some 10,000 students in Houston alone. And you're seeing this across the country. They're having social workers trying to reconnect with these students. But, obviously, it's imperative to bring them back into the classroom.

And I asked her what she worries about most when they do come back and she said logistics, keeping masks on children all day long. I mean imagine how difficult it is for adults. But for young elementary school students, it's going to be that much more difficult.

And a bit of trivia here for you, Alisyn. You know I'm from Houston. It's a special place for me. That actually, Harvard Elementary, was my elementary school.


GOLODRYGA: So getting a tour of that was a walk down memory lane.

CAMEROTA: Oh, we lost Bianna, but I'm sure they have her drawings up on the wall everywhere in that school.

One quick programming note. The "Sesame Street" crew is back on CNN for a new family town hall about coronavirus and how to stay safe this summer. Watch "The ABCs of Covid-19" tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern only on CNN.

BERMAN: That will be wonderful.

Now, here is what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET. Michael Flynn court hearing.

10:30 a.m. ET, Minneapolis city council meets.

1:15 p.m. ET, Joe Biden virtual town hall.


BERMAN: So could unity and compassionate help lead to meaningful action on racism? We hear from two faith leaders who have faced hate. That's next.



BERMAN: Protests in all 50 states and around the world following the death of George Floyd. Two faith leaders with different backgrounds but shared experiences of tragedy in their places of worship are taking this opportunity to use the movement to create a dialogue about race in this country.

Joining us now, Pastor Eric Manning, pastor of the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the site five years ago of the mass shooting there, and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, obviously site of the mass shooting in 2018.

And you two leaders are bonded in tragedy and also hope. You have leaned on each other the last few years and we've had the blessing of leaning on both of you. So, thanks so much for being with us.

Pastor Manning, first to you. What lessons have you learned about converting pain into action or finding ways to get action in spite of pain?

PASTOR ERIC MANNING, MOTHER EMANUEL AME CHURCH: Well, again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share.

I think that is a great question. And, realistically, converting pain into action is basically saying that as long as you have the ability to take a stand, you're going to do such. And one of the things that we must remember is never to let the legacy of those lives that have been perished or that have been taken away prematurely, we should never forget them.


And the way that we remember is we continue to push for change. And from that, we find the strength to continue to share.

BERMAN: Rabbi, you two holded -- held a FaceBook Live discussion, more than an hour long the other night. And you say, Rabbi, the most important part of it was to listen. Why?

RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I can't pretend to understand what it's like to be a black American because I'm not. So the most important thing for me is to listen to hear the narratives, hear the stories, the experiences, to try to learn from them and to become as -- once again I learned from my good friend, Pastor Manning, to become more socially aware.

BERMAN: And is listening enough, Pastor Manning?

MANNING: Listening is the initial step. But then that listening must be converted into action. And that action then, of course, you must have the steps and the goals and then have the courage to see those goals through.

BERMAN: Rabbi, what are you hearing from your congregants, all white I assume, about what they want to hear happen or how they are reacting to the events in America over the last few weeks, if you can still hear me, Rabbi.

MYERS: I think what I'm hearing from the congregation are much of the same things that I've been wondering about, which are, what are the right steps to take? There seem to be so many. Where's a good first place to start? Which is why I think that to be able to hear voices that can help direct us, give guidance, make suggestions, it's so very important to us to try to find ways that we can partner, build bridges and work together.

BERMAN: Pastor, we've seen a lot of change in the last ten days. A lot of things have happened in this country. I am not suggesting we are anywhere near done. But why do you think this time, this tragedy, has spurred so much quick action?

MANNING: I do not pretend to even understand, but I would probably just say that it was enough. It was what we saw with George Floyd and the video for the 8 minutes and 40 seconds. It was there. It was raw. And that compelled a lot of young people, which this movement, of course, is made up of, to take a stance and say, enough is enough. We are tired of seeing the amount of injustices that are done to black lives. And, of course, Black Lives Matter began to rally, began to move forward with an encouraging freshness. Because that freshness is now pushing those who are a little bit older, pushing them to do more, to change the various laws and change the things that need to be done.

BERMAN: Rabbi Myers, what surprises you about what you've seen the last few weeks in this country?

MYERS: I'm actually surprised that it took so long to have this unrest, to have so many voices speaking out because for so very long racism has been part of the fabric of America. How tragic it is that it takes yet again the death of another black American to be able to create a point where enough is enough. This is just so long overdue.

BERMAN: Both of you men have had to stare hate in the face and deal with it and process it and lead through it.

Pastor, how do you change attitudes like that?

MANNING: You change by -- well, I think Rabbi and I have -- the friendship we have grown over the past couple of years, it begins with a trust. The conversation that Rabbi had -- Rabbi and I had earlier this week. If the trust wasn't there, then I don't know if that conversation would have been able to take place. But I trust Rabbi and I believe he trusts me. There -- that's the beginning.


If you don't have trust, you don't have that foundation to build upon, and that's something that the African-American community just has not received a lot of times. People make these empty promises and as they make the empty promises we don't see the actions, we don't see anything changing. So you have to have that trust. And then as you have the trust, you build upon that with having the real conversations. Not the touchy feely conversations, but you have the conversations that are intended to, of course, listen, not just passively listening, but actively listening. And as you actively listen, then we hope and pray that your heart begins to change.

And as your heart begins to change, then your actions will begin to change. But a lot of times, to Rabbi's point, what fails to happen is the heart never changes. And if the heart doesn't change, then the -- the next steps don't actually ever take place. But once we can get to the heart, once we can get to the matter, once we can get to people understanding that there is a difference and that is there a mount (ph) -- there is so much injustice that continues to take place, then you can realistically impact a positive change and make this world a better place.

BERMAN: Well, Pastor Manning, Rabbi Myers, you are both reaching all of our hearts. So, thank you for what you're doing. A relationship maybe begun in tragedy, but now based on hope. We appreciate you being with us. Thanks so much.

MYERS: Thank you.

MANNING: Thank you.

BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues, next.